Ted Cruz has reintroduced legislation which, among other actions, would strip federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and thus, federal benefits.
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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is pushing the State Marriage Defense Act, legislation that if signed into law could accomplish two objectives. First, redefine marriage at the federal level to remove from hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples the federal government's recognition of their marriages, and thus, any corresponding federal benefits they are afforded, now or in the future. And second, should the U.S. Supreme Court not find a right to marriage for same-sex couples, encourage states that do not wish to recognize those marriages to potentially nullify them.
While being framed as states' rights legislation, the bill's language makes clear Cruz's actual intent, and the bill's ramifications.
"Congress recognizes that current actions by the Federal Government to afford benefits to certain relationships not recognized as marriages by a person’s State of residence go beyond the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor," the bill reads.
Currently, the federal government has been recognizing all same-sex marriages legally performed in states, even after the state has refused to do so.
Cruz's bill also changes the federal definition of marriage, by stating "the term ‘marriage’ shall not include any relationship which that State, territory, or possession does not recognize as a marriage, and the term ‘spouse’ shall not include an individual who is a party to a relationship that is not recognized as a marriage by that State, territory, or possession.’’
In a separate statement, the Texas Senator, a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2016, attacks President Barack Obama and indirectly, Attorney General Holder. Cruz says "the Obama Administration has disregarded state marriage laws enacted by democratically-elected legislatures to uphold traditional marriage...I support traditional marriage and we should reject attempts by the Obama Administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states. The State Marriage Defense Act helps safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for their citizens."
Cruz also warns that later this year he "will be introducing a constitutional amendment to further protect marriage and to prevent judicial activism. The amendment will make explicit that marriage is a policy question for the democratically-elected legislatures in each of the 50 states."
A decade ago, in 2004, the United States’ General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report that “identified a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges.” Cruz's legislation could strip these from legally married same-sex couples in any state that chooses to not honor their marriages.
Initial sponsors of Cruz's bill are eleven Republican Senators: John Boozman, R-AR, Mike Crapo, R-ID, Steve Daines, R-MT, James Inhofe, R-OK, James Lankford, R-OK, Mike Lee, R-UT, Pat Roberts, R-KS, Tim Scott, R-SC, Jeff Sessions, R-AL, Richard Shelby, R-AL, and David Vitter, R-LA.
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr